« AnteriorContinuar »
'cannot put away our sins, and endure the seve
ceive Christ such as he delivereth himself unto us. But he doth not only set us at liberty from sins and death, and make us at one with God, but also with the divine inspiration and virtue of the Holy Ghost doth regenerate and newly form us to the endeavour of innocency and holiness, which we call newness of life. Nowell, p. 73. .
• Q. Cannot we then, with godly, dutiful doings and works, satisfy God, and by ourselves merit pardon of our sins ?
A. There is no mercy due to our merits, but God doth yield and remit to Christ his correction and punishment that he would have done upon us. For Christ alone hath satisfied God. By Christ alone we have access to the grace of God. Nowell, p. 69. .
All our thoughts and deeds were of no value, if they were not allowed in the merits of Christ's death. Hom. xxv. 1.
Neither may we rejoice in any works that we do, all which be so imperfect and impure, that they are not able to stand before the righteous judgment-seat of God. Hom. ii. 2.
For our imperfection is so great, through the corruption of original sin, that all is imperfect that is within us; faith, charity, hope, dread, thoughts, words, and works : and therefore not apt to merit and deserve any part of our justification for us. Hom. iii. 3.
Q. Then thou standest still in this, that we cannot by merit of works obtain to be justified before God, seeing thou thinkest that all doings of men, even the perfectest, do need pardon ? A. God himself hath so decreed in his word ; and his Holy Spirit doth teach us to pray that he bring us not into judgment. For where righteousness, such as God the judge shall allow ought to be thoroughly perfect, such as to be directed and tried
Who gave himself for us, that he lusts in your ignorance. 1 Pet. i. might redeem us from all iniquity, 14. If a man purge himself from and purify unto himself a peculiar these, he shall be a vessel unto people, zealous of good works. Tit. honour, sanctified, and meet for ii. 14. Being then made free from the master's use, and prepared sin, ye became the servants of unto every good work. 2 Tim. ii. righteousness. Rom. vi. 18, Being 21. That the man of God may be made free from sin, and become perfect, throughly furnished unto servants to God, ye have your fruit all good works. 2 Tim. iii. 17. (The unto holiness, and the end ever- jailor having heard the way of lasting life. Rom. vi. 22. Which salvation) took (Paul and Silas) the in time past was to thee unprofita- same hour of the night, and washed ble, but now profitable to thee their stripes. And when he had and to me, Philem. 11. Let your brought them into his house, he light so shine before men, that set meat before them. Acts xvi. 33, they may see your good works, 34. and glorify your father which is c How should man be just with in heaven. Matt. v. 16. As obe- God? If he will contend with him, dient children, not fashioning your- he cannot answer him one of a selves according to the former , thousand. Job ix. 2, 3. If thou,
rity of God's judgment; ayet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a 'true and lively Faith ; inso
by the most precise rule, and, as it were, by the plumb-line of God's law and judgment; and sith our works, even the best of them, for that they swerve and differ most far from the rule and prescription of God's law and justice, are many ways to be blamed and condemned, we can by no means be justified before God by works. Nowell, p. 75.
d Q. How then dost thou say that they please God ? A. It is faith that procureth God's favour to our works, while it is assured that he will not deal with us after extremity of law, nor call our doings to exact account, nor try them as it were by the square ; that is, he will not, in valuing and weighing them, use severity, but remitting and pardoning all their corruptness, for Christ's sake and his deservings will account them for fully perfect. Nowell, p. 75.
e The first coming unto God, good Christian people, is through faith, whereby (as it is declared in the last Sermon) we be justified before God. And lest any man should be deceived, for lack of right understanding thereof, it is diligently to be noted, that faith is taken in the Scripture two manner of ways. There is one faith which in Scripture is called a dead faith, which bringeth forth no good works; but is idle, barren, and
Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O God, that ye present your bodies a Lord, who shall stand? But there living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to is forgiveness with thee, that thou God, which is your reasonable sermayest be feared. Ps. cxxx. 3. vice. Rom. xii. 1. That ye might Enter not into judgment with thy walk worthy of the Lord unto all servant; for in thy sight shall no pleasing, being fruitful in every man living be justified. Ps. cxliii. good work. Col. i. 10. To do good, 2. When ye shall have done all and to communicate, forget not; these things that are commanded for with such sacrifices God is well you, say, We are unprofitable ser- pleased. Heb. xiii. 16. I know vants; we have done that which also, my God, that thou triest the was our duty to do. Luke xvii. 10. heart, and hast pleasure in uprightMy goodness extendeth not to thee. ness. 1 Chron. xxix. 17. Enoch Ps. xvi. 2. We are all as an unclean had this testimony, that he pleased thing, and all our righteousnesses God. Heb. xi. 5. In every nation are as filthy rags; and we all do he that feareth him and worketh fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, righteousness, is accepted with like the wind, have taken us away. him. Acts x. 35. Now the God of! Isa. Ixiv. 6.
peace that brought again from the d The kingdom of God is not dead our Lord Jesus, that great meat and drink, but righteousness, Shepherd of the sheep, through and peace, and joy in the Holy the blood of the everlasting coveGhost. For he that in these things nant, make you perfect in every serveth Christ, is acceptable to 'good work, to do his will, working God, and approved of men. Rom. in you that which is well-pleasing xiv. 17, 18. I beseech you there in his sight, through Jesus Christ. fore, brethren, by the mercies of Heb. xiii. 20, 21.
much that fby them a lively faith may be as
unfruitful. And this faith is a persuasion and belief in man's heart, whereby he knoweth that there is a God, and agreeth unto all truths of God's most holy word, contained in the holy Scripture. So that it consisteth only in believing in the word of God, that it is true. And this is not properly called faith.Another faith there is in Scripture, which is not, as the aforesaid faith, idle, unfruitful, and dead, but “ worketh by charity," (as St. Paul declareth, Gal. v. 6.) which as the other vain faith is called a dead faith, so may this be called a quick or lively faith. And this is not only the common belief of the Articles of our faith, but it is also a true trust and confidence of the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a stedfast hope of all good things to be received at God's hand. For the very sure and lively Christian faith is, not only to believe all things of God which are contained in holy Scripture, but also is an earnest trust and confidence in God, that he doth regard us, and that he is careful over us, as the father is over the child whom he doth love, and that he will be merciful unto us for his only Son's sake, and that we have our Saviour Christ our perpetual Advocate and Priest, in whose only merits, oblation, and suffering we do trust that our offences be continually washed and purged, whensoever we, repenting truly, do return to him with our whole heart, stedfastly determining with ourselves, through his grace, to obey and serve him in keeping his commandments, and never to turn back again to sin. And this faith is not without hope and trust in God, nor without the love of God and of our neighbours, nor without the fear of God, nor without the desire to hear God's word, and to follow the same in eschewing evil, and doing gladly all good works. Hom. iv. 1.
That faith which bringeth forth (without repentance) either evil works, or no good works, is not a right, pure, and lively faith, but a dead, devilish, counterfeit, and feigned faith, as St. Paul and St. James call it.—The right and true Christian faith is, not only to believe that holy Scripture, and all the foresaid articles of our faith are true; but also to have a sure trust and confidence in God's merciful promises, to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ: whereof doth follow a loving heart to obey his commandments. Hom. iii. 2.
Q. Give me a definition of lively, true, and Christian faith? A. Faith is an assured knowledge of the fatherly good-will of God toward us through Christ, and an affiance, in the same goodness, as it is witnessed in the Gospel; which faith hath coupled with it an endeavour of godly life, that is, to obey the will of God the Father. Nowell, p. 34.
The general faith is that which crediteth the word of God. But the true faith, as it nothing doubteth that all things taught in the word of God are most certainly true, so doth it also enibrace
evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit.
the promises made concerning the mercy of God the Father, and the forgiveness of sins to the faithful through Jesus Christ, which promises are properly called the Gospel : which faith whosoever have, they do not only fear God as the most mighty Lord of all, and the most righteous Judge, (which the most part of the ungodly and the devils themselves do,) but also they love him as their most bountiful and merciful Father, whom as they travail in all things to please (as becometh obedient children) with godly endeavours and works, which are called the fruits of faith, so have they a good and a sure hope of obtaining pardon through Christ, when as men they swerve from his will. For they know that Christ (whom they trust upon) appeasing the wrath of his Father, their sins shall never be imputed any more unto them, than if the same had never been committed. And though themselves have not satisfied the law, and their duty towards God and men, yet believe they that Christ, with his most full observing of the law, hath abundantly satisfied God for them, and are persuaded that by this his righteousness and observing of the law of God, themselves are accounted in the number and state of the righteous, and that they are beloved of God, even as if themselves had fulfilled the law. And this is the justification which the holy Scriptures do declare that we obtain by faith. Nowell, p. 33.
Neither doth faith shut out the justice of our good works, necessarily to be done afterwards of duty towards God. Hom. jii. 1.
Thy deeds and works must be an open testimonial of thy faith : otherwise thy faith, being without good works, is but the devils' faith, the faith of the wicked, a fantasy of faith, and not a true Christian faith. Hom. iv. 3.
Faith may not be naked without good works, for then it is no true faith: and when it is adjoined to works, yet it is above the works. For as men, that be very men indeed, first have life, and after be nourished; so must our faith in Christ go before, and after be nourished with good works. And life may be without nourishment, but nourishment cannot be without life. A man must needs be nourished by good works, but first he must have faith. He that doth good deeds, yet without faith,. he hath no life. Hom. v. 1.
f Either make the tree good, and He that received seed into the his fruit good; or else make the good ground is he that heareth tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: the word and understandeth it; for the tree is known by his fruit. which also beareth fruit and bringA good man out of the good trea- eth forth, some an hundred fold, sure of his heart bringeth forth some sixty, some thirty. Matt. good things. Matt. xii. 33, 34. xiii. 23. Who in an honest and
Q. Thou sayest then that justice, faith, and good works do naturally cleave together, and therefore ought no more to be severed, than Christ, the author of them in us, can be severed from himself. A. It is true. Nowell, p. 73.
There is one work, in the which be all good works, that is faith, which worketh by charity: if thou have it, thou hast the ground of all good works; for the virtues of strength, wisdom, temperance, and justice, be all referred unto this same faith. Hom. v. 1.
As St. Augustine saith, Good living cannot be separated from true faith, which worketh by love. And St. Chrysostom saith, Faith of itself is full of good works: as soon as a man doth believe, he shall be garnished with them. How plentiful this faith is of good works, and how it maketh the work of one man more acceptable to God than of another, St. Paul teacheth at large in the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews. Hom. iv. 2.
For the first, that as the light cannot be hid, but will shew forth itself at one place or other; so a true faith cannot be kept secret, but when occasion is offered it will break out, and shew itself by good works. And as the living body of a man ever exerciseth such things as belong to a natural and living body, for nourishment and preservation of the same, as it hath need, opportunity, and occasion; even so the soul that hath a lively faith in it will be doing always some good work, which shall declare that it is living, and will not be unoccupied. Hom. iv. 1.
Q. Doth not this doctrine withdraw men's minds from the duties of godliness and make them slacker and slower to good works, or at least less cheerful and ready to godly endeavours ? A. No: for we may not therefore say that good works are unprofitable or done in vain and without cause, for that we obtain not justification by them. For they serve both to the profit of our neighbour and to the glory of God; and they do as by certain testimonies assure us of God's good will toward us, and of our love again to God-ward, and of our faith, and so consequently of our salvation. And reason it is, that we being redeemed with the blood of Christ, the Son of God, and having beside received innumerable and infinite benefits of God, should live and wholly frame ourselves after the will and appointment of our Redeemer, and so shew ourselves mindful and thankful to the Anthor of our salvation, and by our example, procure and win other unto him. , The man that calleth these thoughts to mind may sufficiently rejoice in his good endeavours and works.
good heart, having heard the word, Every good tree bringeth forth keep it, and bring forth fruit with good fruit. Wherefore by their patience. Luke viii. 15. We are fruits ye shall know them. Matt. his workmanship, created in Christ vii. 17, 20. He shall be like a Jesus unto good works, which God tree planted by the rivers of wahath before ordained, that we ter, that bringeth forth' his fruit in should walk in them. Eph. ii. 10. his season; his leaf also shall not